Colombia’s top Catholic clergyman told the government on Friday that the church would fight sexual abuse by priests against minors with a “zero tolerance” approach towards affiliated pedophiles.
“The protection of children and adolescents is an absolute priority for the Catholic Church in Colombia,” the Archbishop of Bogota, Cardinal Rubén Salazar, wrote in a letter addressed to the government’s Family Welfare Institute (ICFB) days after the church had come under fire for sexual abuse charges filed against a Colombian priest.
In his letter, the archbishop said that priests that engaged in child sexual abuse would not just be held accountable before the law, but also within the church.
“We applaud all the effort you make from the general direction of the Institute of Family Welfare to protect all the minors of our nation,” he said. “If it is true that the Church bitterly cries out the sin of her children and asks forgiveness, it is also true that we are committed to renewing all efforts so that these atrocities do not happen again among us.”
Earlier this week, Cristina Plazas Michelsen, the director of the ICBF, had sent Cardinal Salazar a letter calling for the Catholic Church to “set a precedent and express ‘zero tolerance’ to anything surrounding sexual abuse, the most atrocious crime of humanity.” It was in response to court proceedings in Cali, Valle del Cauca, against a priest accused of sexually abusing four children in his community.
Archbishop Salazar agreed: “The Church clearly and loyally adopts the slogan of zero tolerance in any case that is denounced before our delegates of protection of minors and to take all the measures so that those responsible are punished both canonically and civilly. If the abuse is proven, a priest can never return to his ministry. “